As many of our readers know, mesothelioma is a rare lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Asbestos use in the United States peaked in the mid to late 1960s. Given that mesothelioma usually occurs two or three decades after exposure to asbestos, it is no surprise that mesothelioma rates in the U.S. rose through the early 1990s.
Today, there is controversy over whether mesothelioma rates will increase in the future. Some authorities think the rates will continue to climb, while others think new cases are declining. There is no doubt that many industries used asbestos heavily before OSHA regulations limiting asbestos use went into effect in 1972.
Many people are unaware that thousands of companies continued to use asbestos in large quantities after the 1972 OSHA regulations. Using legal loopholes and sometimes just ignoring the law, these companies placed their workers in danger despite the OSHA regulations.
Prior to the OSHA regulations, many companies subscribed to trade journals that warned of the dangers of asbestos. Other companies did their own internal research, learning as early as the 1930s that asbestos could cause fatal cancers. It is no surprise that many of the largest companies were well aware of the dangers, yet did nothing to protect their employees.
Despite the fact that many companies used asbestos after the 1972 regulations, it is clear that overall use of asbestos dropped throughout the 1970s and 1980s. This drop in use of asbestos fibers should translate into a drop in mesothelioma rates. Only time will tell whether the smaller quantities of asbestos used in the 1970s and 1980s turn out to cause as many mesotheliomas as the larger, earlier exposures.
Cappolino Dodd Krebs LLP is currently involved in mesothelioma cases where the injured party was exposed to asbestos as late as the 2000s. It is simply inconceivable that any corporation would knowingly expose their workers to asbestos; unfortunately, many workers are still exposed, and the injustice continues. If you have questions about mesothelioma or any other cancer, please contact our asbestos department at 1 (800) 460-0606.